Babe: Pig in the City

The following capsule was included in a list of movies to watch while sick:

(George Miller, 1998) I had to be headlocked into seeing the original Babe because children’s movies + “talking” animals give me spleen. But when someone finally forced my hand, I fell in love. And despite chimps in clothes + Mickey Fucking Rooney, I fell even deeper in love with its sequel. Both films were marketed like simpering talking-pig tales for kids, but appearances are deceiving. These movies have dark and surreal hands that stretch out from the screen and grab you and shake you, until even the hardest cynic is staining the front of her shirt with tears. The worst thing about Babe: Pig in the City is its title. It’s as troubled and dependable as Rex the Sheepdog — it always gets me, especially when the starving animals in the hotel gather around the jellybean jar (“My tummy hurts”), and when the pitbull almost drowns to the strains of Edith Piaf, and when the crippled Flealick daydreams about running through a meadow. It takes a lot to make me buy into sentiment and wring tears from my ducts, but this movie manages to do it every time, a perfect nasal decongestant. Add to that the chicken-soup comfort of James Cromwell (though he’s little seen this time around), the inventive dialogue between pig, chimp and orangutan, the carnival production design, and the unexpected edginess brought in by George Miller of Road Warrior fame. Babe II only pretends to be a kid’s movie; it’s too heavily sauced with melancholy and with real, breathing ideas to be relegated to the playroom VCR. Best of all, it’s guaranteed to distract you from your ailments with its many pretties without taxing brains or aggravating nausea. — Ranylt Richildis

(Originally published as part of Pajiba.com’s Guide to What’s Good for You series, on September 18, 2008.)

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